Sisters of Midnight:Dark Moon
Author: Kimberly Diaz

Chapter 7
Chapter 7

Chapter 7

I could sense Cyndi’s presence before I saw them. I met Nick’s eyes and let the smooth material slide slowly off my shoulders, knowing the dress accentuated every curve and showed off plenty of skin.

The air was charged with energy and I could feel the connection between us even as Cyndi looked on, appalled at Nick’s reaction to me. His eyes were glued to my body as I spoke. “Hi, Nick. You must be excited tonight.”

“Excuse me!” Cyndi narrowed her eyes in warning, reminding me of a cat about to pounce. Nick’s hot gaze was having an unsettling effect on my body.

I licked my lips. “What Cyndi?” I said innocently. “I’m talking about the scholarship he just got. That must be very exciting, you‘ve worked really hard for it.” I smiled inwardly, enjoying knowing that Nick wanted me so much he couldn’t even hide it in front of Cyndi. What had Tracey’s drink and the crystals done to me? I wanted him to kiss me.

He looked from my body back up to my face. “It is. I’ve never wanted anything more.” I knew he was talking about more than just the scholarship. Rachel chose that minute to touch my arm and the spell was broken, which was a good thing. “So, Teen Witch brought her friends with her,” Cyndi said nastily. “Everyone’s waiting for us Nick. I can’t wait to give you the surprise I have for you tonight.”

“Leave it to Cyndi to make everything about her,” I mumbled. Nick was reluctantly letting himself be led away. “What is it Rachel?”

“Whoa, what happened in here? You need a knife to cut the tension in the room.” Rachel looked through the doorway where Nick and Cyndi had just disappeared.

“Cyndi seems threatened for some reason.” I was smirking, slightly amused, trying not to think about the surprise she was going to give him tonight. I didn’t think he would do whatever she wanted but I wondered what they had done before he and I got together.

“Tony is making his rounds looking for you. He stopped us outside and I told him you were here somewhere. Wait until you see the set-up Jana has out back. It’s amazing. There are lights, and music, and…Faith, are you listening?”

I was remembering the look on Cyndi’s face. She wouldn’t take it well when it’s discovered that Nick and I are a couple. How far would she go to get revenge? “Sorry Rach. Let’s go dance.”

Amazing was an understatement I thought, looking at Jana’s miraculous backyard. It was enormous with at least one hundred people milling around. Maybe I would be able to avoid Tony all night. I passed the food tables and drink bar to stand in the open area on the patio, breathing in the aromatic scent of hibiscus flowers from the many trees that decorated the well-groomed yard. There were also palm and orange trees with small paper lanterns ornamenting them, giving off a muted, intimate lighting.

Techno music was being projected from the surround sound speakers, the steady rhythm pulsing through my body, infecting my blood with its primal beat. The misting system provided a much-needed coolness to my flushed skin and lit tiki torches added the final touch. I could feel the elements-earth, air, fire, water-surrounding me, becoming part of me. Never had I felt so in tune with nature.

I turned to Rachel whose eyes had widened. “You feel it too.” I realized.

“What is it?”

“It’s power. Ours.” Emily’s voice came from behind us. “It’s almost the full moon and our powers are growing.” She sounded pleased.

“Don’t forget the drink I made for us,” Tracey joined us. “All of our senses are heightened, all our feelings and intuition.”

Was that why I was practically coming on to Nick right in front of Cyndi? I looked across the yard at the two of them standing with some of Cyndi’s most annoying friends. Nick looked distantly bored as Cyndi talked non-stop to the crowd around them. I absentmindedly fingered the amethyst around my neck.

Earth and fire, wind and sea

If I will it, so shall it be

Make him burn, make him see

He wants no other, only me

The silent spell popped into my head before I could stop it. I looked at them once more, this time meeting Nick’s eyes. He looked completely miserable next to her. She had her body pressed up against him now and was whispering something in his ear, probably about the surprise, whatever it was. It was clear that she wanted more from him than just a way to win Homecoming.

I hadn’t let myself think about winning, telling myself that something as superficial as a popularity contest was not important to me; but a part of me entertained the fantasy of having a tiara placed on my head in front of the entire school. Did I dare to dream that Nick and I would both win?

Hopefully one of the other girls would beat out Cyndi. The one thing I couldn’t stand would be for her to win and having to watch as they danced together. I couldn’t even stand to see them together now.

She toyed with his hair and kissed his neck. Disgusted with the path my thoughts were headed, I turned away, slamming right into a hard, muscular body.

Tony.

I supposed I could show him a little consideration, seeing as how he was my date for the dance. It wasn’t his fault I was in love with someone else. I looked up at him with a smile. ”Hey Tony. Rachel said you were looking for me.”

“Yeah, I was hoping to celebrate winning the game with you.” He smiled genuinely enough for me to feel guilty for using him the way I was. I let him lead me by the hand. “Where are we going?”

“I wanted to dance with you. You look really good tonight.”

One dance wouldn’t hurt. After all, Tony wasn’t even being his usual jerk self. It reminded me of why I had originally decided he would be a nice distraction from Nick. I did look good tonight, only Nick was to busy with Cyndi to pay any attention. Why shouldn’t I get to dance?

I still wanted to keep my distance to avoid giving him the wrong idea, but the music had been affecting me since I had arrived. His hands were on my waist and my eyes fell shut, letting my body take over.

Don’t think- just feel.

My hips rotated with the thump of the drums, my heartbeat in sync with the pulsating sound. I had the feeling that Tony would do anything I said, power was mine for the taking.

I looked around briefly and saw couples dancing all around us, including Tracey and Ryan, and Emily dancing with two guys, one on each side of her. Then I made the mistake of searching for the one head I actually cared about. Instead, I saw Cyndi staring at me with pure hatred in her eyes. Nick was nowhere to be found.

Where did he go? Did he leave because of me or because of Cyndi?

Tony’s hands moved down to my hips and pulled me closer. I was still under the hypnotic spell when he kissed me. I kissed him back, trying to feel something for him, anything, but a shiver of fear crept inside me and refused to let go. Tony was radiating danger. I could sense it deep down inside of him. Who was it for? I wondered as I broke away from the kiss. “Tony, I can’t.”

“Let it happen, babe. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.” He spoke against my lips, not loosening the hold he had on me. He bent his head back down and kissed me again. I felt suffocated and my hands came up to push against his chest. “No Tony,” I said, getting angry.

He finally released me, looking me up and down. “You know, I don’t get you Faith. Your dancing tells me one thing but then you start acting like a tease. You better make up your mind by tomorrow.”

“Or what,” I dared him. I shook my head, not waiting for an answer. “I have to go.”

“Faith, stop!” He started to follow me as I retreated but Ryan grabbed him by the arm, stopping him. “Dude, let her go. You can see her tomorrow.”

“I’m leaving,” I stated as I stalked past Rachel, infuriated with Tony and with myself.

“Do you want company?” she asked.

I shook my head from side to side. I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I just needed to get out of there. “It’s only a few blocks. Tell the others I said bye. Call you tomorrow.” One last glance around the yard and I still couldn’t locate Nick. Cyndi was back to being the center of attention as she told an animated story to the group around her.

I passed Jana on my way out and thanked her, ignoring her questions about the short amount of time I was there, almost forgetting to grab my coat as I went out the door.

I got angrier the farther I walked. Why did I feel guilty for dancing with Tony? Nick had Cyndi all over him tonight. He didn’t seem into her but he wasn’t doing anything about it either. “One more day,” I reminded myself as I turned down my street.

I didn’t remember it ever being this dark before. I looked up at the broken streetlight. Where was the moon? The sky was dark with clouds, the brightness of the moon hidden behind them. Was it my imagination or was there a shape moving in the shadows up ahead?

I thought about my premonition from this afternoon and the one from last week where I saw the blood on my locker.

Something’s after me. One shadow in particular appeared to be growing. I pulled my coat tighter around me.

Stupid, I told myself. With all the things that had been happening, why did I take off from the party by myself? I knew I had been followed before because of the picture the police found Wednesday, and the feeling I had before the assembly. I could see my house now and started walking faster.

“Faith,” a voice whispered from the dark ahead of me; the figure from my premonition? I froze, too scared to move and I frantically looked in my purse for something to use as a weapon. Money, lipstick, keys… I could use my keys to scratch him. I had forgotten my cell in Tracey’s car so I couldn’t call the police.

I nearly screamed as I heard the voice closer this time. Did I have time to make it to my house before the owner of that voice did?

Clutching the keys tight, I ran through the bushes to my front door, scrambling to fit them in the lock.

No!

I cried out as I dropped them, my fingers like butter the more scared I got. There was a rustling in the bushes and a deep voice called my name from behind. It was a new voice, not the whisper. I’m going to be killed on my front porch! I thought. “Stay away from me! I have pepper spray.” I bluffed.

I bent to retrieve the keys and opened my mouth to scream as a foot stepped out in front of me. It was a sneaker with a familiar logo.

The scream died on my lips as I recognized the shoes and two arms pulled me to a standing position. “Oh my god, It’s you!”

“Who were you expecting?” Nick asked.

“I-you-the voice.” I was babbling. “Something was after me.”

Nick looked cautiously around the yard.

“Something was moving in the shadows!” I realized when I said it how ridiculous it sounded. “I thought someone was following me. I don’t really have pepper spray.”

“So then you weren’t just saying that because you were angry with me?” he teased gently. “Why did your friends let you walk home alone?” he said accusingly, concerned.

“Don’t blame them. I told them I wanted to walk alone.”

His eyes searched mine for answers. “After Wednesday, you shouldn’t be walking alone at night anywhere. I’m surprised Tony even let you go.”

His voice had a note of bitterness to it. I knew I’d hurt him for dancing the way I had with Tony at Jana’s. I looked down at the ground. “About that-”

He didn’t give me a chance to finish. “Who am I to be upset, I’ve been with Cyndi all night. That’s what this is about, isn’t it?”

I forgot how well he knew me.

“I know every time I looked, she was all over you and there was nothing I could do about it.”

“Did you even once see me reciprocate or look like I was into her?”

I hoped we were not going to break up before we officially got together. “I don’t know why I acted like that tonight, Nick. I-I let him kiss me before I realized how wrong it all felt.” I confessed, not sure what his reaction would be.

His jaw tensed. “I saw you.”

My throat swelled when I heard the hurt in his voice. “That’s why you left.” I stated in a whisper. “I’m sorry. I know that’s no excuse, but I was upset. Not at you, at Cyndi. And not just at her. It was her, the break in, my flat tires, the premonitions-”

He interrupted. “Premonitions, like the ones you had before your dad left? You had another one?”

I was reluctant to tell him about what I saw this afternoon. I wanted to protect him. “Just enough to freak me out. It’s not important.”

“It is if it freaked you out so much you thought you were being chased.”

“So that was you calling my name?”

“Yeah, I’d left the party and decided to wait here for you. Then I saw you come through the bushes and run up to your door and I called out to you so I wouldn’t startle you.”

I looked at the driveway, just noticing his car. I had been too caught up in my thoughts on the way home. He hadn’t been the whisper. “How did you know I’d be walking?”

“I didn’t. I had no idea when you’d be back. It seemed like you were really enjoying the party.”

Moisture clouded my eyes. He reached out to touch my face. “Don’t. Look, that came out wrong. You were obviously upset at seeing me with Cyndi tonight and I came here to wait for you so we could talk. I know you weren’t trying to hurt me by dancing with him.”

He was so trusting, so honest; I didn’t deserve him. I had been everything he was against. I’d wanted him to be jealous the way I had been, I had tried to use power to seduce Tony briefly. Oh yeah, and I had used a seduction spell on Nick, violating his free will. He had a right to know. I would have to risk losing him. “You don’t know me as well as you think.”

“I know how much I care about you.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew the truth.”

He pulled me to face him. “So tell me. What’s so bad that you can’t tell me?”

He had no idea what he was asking. I know I surprised him when I asked seriously, “Do you believe in magick?”

He looked confused. “Do you mean David Copperfield type of magic or magic as in witchcraft?”

“You know, like in ‘The Craft’.”

He nodded, “I guess so. I mean, I never really thought about it. Why?”

I swallowed my fear and told him about my feelings for him, our spells that had worked, Tracey’s pretend one and my real one, the things that had been coming true. He listened and I was unable to read his expression. I expected him to get mad, yell at me, or even worse, walk away without looking back. I was totally unprepared when he let out a deep laugh.

“Do you honestly think that’s the reason why I want to be with you?” Amusement danced in his eyes. “I think it’s kind of sexy, what you and your friends do.”

“You do?”

He had stopped laughing. “Yes. And you said it was about a week ago, this spell you did?”

I nodded. His arms encircled my waist and he gently brought me forward. “Do me a favor. Don’t let yourself think right now, just feel.” And for the second time tonight, I did just that.

His kiss was soft and sweet. Closing my eyes, I could feel threads of electricity around us, touching us, connecting us. This was what I wanted, needed; that feeling I didn’t get from Tony or anyone else. He cupped the back of my head and kissed me harder and I gave in to my emotions thinking, this is what it is supposed to feel like, before all the guilt about Cyndi and Tony came into play. My hands came up to touch his chest, hard beneath the soft material of his dark blue T-shirt. I poured every bit of feeling I had for him into that kiss.

Finally, he was just holding me, no words necessary, just the sounds of our heartbeats and our breaths coming together. All of my doubts had been laid to rest by that one breathtaking kiss. Nick wasn’t going to leave me.

“Did you feel how powerful that was?” he asked me.

I looked up at his chiseled face. “I felt it.”

“Do you remember when we had to do that skit for the pep rally sophomore year?”

Did I remember? Was he kidding? Nick had given me a quick kiss on the mouth during that skit; but not so quick that I wasn’t suddenly aware that no one else could make me feel the way Nick did. I had hoped, prayed, that he had wanted me as much as I wanted him. “Remember? I never forgot it. I thought that was the only kiss from you I‘d ever get.”

“I’d wanted to keep kissing you, really kiss you, even with the whole auditorium watching. I felt this…this connection between us…even then.”

“I had no idea.”

“And during all the games, you never knew it, but you kept me motivated. If we were losing, I’d look and see you cheering out there and imagine it was all for me.”

“You were the only reason I didn‘t quit sooner.”

“If you did anything that you believe helped you ‘get me’, I certainly understand your motivation. But just know that there was no need.”

Tears shone in my eyes again, this time because of Nick’s words and the realization that I had been torturing myself with guilt over nothing.

“The feelings I have for you have been there since day one, not because of something you did last week. Never…doubt how I feel about you.”

A sob escaped my throat. “Nick, all week I’ve been so scared. I thought if you knew about what I did, you wouldn’t want anything to do with me.”

“It took guts to tell me anyways.”

“I didn’t want there to be any secrets between us, even if it meant losing you.”

He touched a finger to my lips. “Shh, you’re not going to lose me. I’m not going anywhere.” He stroked my cheek with the back of his fingers. “You’re so beautiful Faith. I told you I wanted you from the first day we met. Any guy would be crazy not to fall in love with you.”

Was he saying what I thought he was?

“I do love you, Faith,” he whispered, watching me for my reaction.

I looked up at him elated. “You do?”

He nodded and looked into my eyes, his dark hair tousled by the slight breeze. “I’ve never said that, or wanted to say that to any other girl before,” he admitted. “I’ve loved you for as long as I can remember.”

Nothing could ruin this moment for me, the one thing I’d wanted for years was finally happening. A warm sensation filled my body. “I love you, Nick, so much. And I promise, you‘ll never be sorry you said it.”

With all secrets out in the open between us now, It felt unnecessary to hold anything back. I brought my arms around his neck, my soft curves molding to the contours of his lean body. I felt a jolt of electricity when our lips met and my skin tingled as he ran his hands under my coat. I kissed him like it was our last day on earth.

“You know, if you would’ve come up to me like this at the party, I wouldn’t have been able to resist kissing you.”

I laughed, overjoyed at the newness of being in love. “Good, because I had no intention of letting you resist me tonight.” I kissed him again then took his hand and led him to the wrought-iron bench on my porch, my legs weak after that last kiss. His hand absentmindedly played with my dress ruffle.

“I found out a couple things tonight you might want to know.”

“Like what?”

“Well, for starters, I had a talk with Mr. Sanders about the scholarship after the game tonight. I didn’t want something I didn’t earn and that was the only thing Cyndi had left to use, so I told him I didn‘t want it just because I was dating his daughter.”

My face fell. “Nick, you needed that scholarship. You gave it up?”

Why was he still smiling?

“I didn’t have to. Cyndi had found out last month that they’d been scouting me since last year. I was already getting the scholarship and she knew it. She just used it to blackmail me, knowing it was my only chance to go to a good school.”

I was fuming. “The bitch!”

“When you saw her all over me tonight, that was her trying to stay on my good side. She saw me talking to her dad and was still trying to play me.”

“I’m not surprised. Did you tell her you knew? Jana was saying she had some great surprise planned for you.”

“I didn’t tell her yet. I wanted to see what she was thinking. You were right; Cyndi has no intention of us ending things after tomorrow. She was telling our friends about the costumes she bought us for the Halloween dance next month. I think she already knows how I feel about you and that’s why she’s trying so hard to keep me.

When you started dancing with Tony, I couldn’t help but let it get to me. She wanted to dance but all I kept thinking about was how she tricked me, making me think that she was the only chance I had to get a scholarship. I reminded her that after tomorrow, our deal was over and we’d go our separate ways. She didn’t like that too well,” he remembered.

“Then I told her I was going inside for awhile. I wasn’t planning to leave; I just needed to get away from her. I looked back at you before I walked inside, saw you kissing Tony and knew I had to get out of there. I know you were just upset, but there was no way I could stay and act like it didn’t hurt to see that. I should’ve been the one kissing you. I was sure after another minute I’d be going across the yard to pull him off of you.”

“I was so wrong, Nick. I was trying to feel something for him, anything, to show Cyndi that it didn’t bother me that you were with her. I felt like I deserved to be with him after what I’d done. It was dumb and I realized the mistake I made when I saw you were gone. Then when I pushed him away, I felt scared of him. He got mad when I wouldn’t kiss him again and called me a tease. Ryan stopped him from going after me and Rachel tried to walk home with me but I wouldn’t let her. I knew I had to be honest with you but I wasn’t sure how to tell you. Then it felt like something was after me and I found you here.”

“Yeah, what were you saying about shadows and more premonitions?’

He listened intently as I filled him in on the premonition with the blood on my locker, the flat tires I knew I had seen, the theft of our book and our plans for after the dance. The only thing I left out were the details of today’s premonition.

When I stopped talking, he was shaking his head back and forth adamantly. “I don’t like it. It’s too dangerous.” He was referring to our summoning spell. “Do you hear what you’re saying? It sounds like someone is out to hurt you and you friends.”

“That’s why we need to do this,” I explained, understanding myself why I insisted this go ahead as planned. “So we know what we’re facing. The police were no help with the break-in, we have no idea who left the picture or broke into Emily’s locker. We need answers.”

It was no longer about proving whether or not our powers were growing, that was obvious with every passing day.

“I’m tired of being scared, Nick. Every day things keep getting worse and I don’t know how to stop them.”

“I’m going with you!” He didn’t leave it open for discussion and I knew there would be no changing his mind. “Have your dreams or premonitions ever been wrong?”

I thought about his question. Any one I’d ever had, and they didn’t happen often, never brought any good news. First I had the one where my father was going to leave, then I witnessed a car accident after a premonition had warned me to drive the longer way to where I was going so I wouldn’t be in it myself. But these later ones had been different-more dark and sinister-I couldn’t decipher them. “No, they’ve never turned out to be nothing.”

I hadn’t planned on telling Nick about the summoning but he had shown me something I’d never experienced before-unconditional trust. He accepted me as I was, without judgment. And now he wanted to help us. I wish I knew what was behind that last premonition. I will do everything in my power to keep him from getting hurt, I promised myself.

“There’s something else you’re not telling me,” he eyed me suspiciously.

How did he do that? “What, you read minds now?”

He gestured to my face. “You always bite your bottom lip when you’re worried about something.”

Damn! I better watch out, he was really observant. “I just didn’t want to get you involved in my problems. It’s too…” I trailed off.

He raised an eyebrow as if to say ‘See?’ “…dangerous?” he finished.

I nodded, looking into his intensely worried eyes.

“I promise not to get in the way, but with all that’s happened, I think you and your friends should have someone else there, just in case. I’ll stay within yelling distance.”

I knew he wasn’t giving me a choice; it was his way of protecting me, although if we were up against something supernatural, I didn’t know what he’d be able to do. We both looked up as bright headlights approached from down the road. I tensed when the vehicle slowed down suspiciously in front of my yard.

Tony, I thought nervously.

“Faith,” a girl’s voice called out.

I focused on the driver. “Tracey? What are you doing here?”

“Checking on you. Rachel told us all you walked home and we kept trying your cell which I found in my car. When we left, I took them home and came to make sure you were OK.”

Glancing at Nick, who had pulled me closer to him as soon as the car stopped, Tracey chuckled. “I see you’re in good hands.”

I looked to Nick who had relaxed as soon as he heard Tracey’s voice. He didn’t seem to mind that we had been discovered.

“I’ll be right back,” I told Nick, walking over to her open window. To Tracey, I whispered, “I told him everything.” I stressed the word everything. “He wants to help us tomorrow.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re kidding.”

I shook my head. “No, I couldn’t believe it myself. Now I only hope we can take care of Cyndi and Tony before we do the ceremony.”

“That’s another problem,” she said reluctantly. “Cyndi’s on the warpath. She saw you leave Jana’s and when she couldn’t find Nick later, she looked so angry I thought she was going to start breathing fire. I think she’s figured things out.”

I felt myself pale. “Oh God.”

“That’s not all,” she went on. “After you two both disappeared, Cyndi dragged Tony off with her and they never came back.”

I took a deep breath. Tony and Cyndi plotting, this couldn’t be good. Icy fear crept inside my body as Tracey left and I went back to Nick. One look at my face told him something was severely wrong. “Cyndi got ticked off when she realized we were both gone from the party. Tracey said she dragged Tony off somewhere and they never came back.”

“Good. Maybe they’re hooking up to try to get us back.”

“How can you joke about this? I don’t have the feeling they’re going to take this laying down; I didn’t mean that literally,” I added as Nick was about to make another smart remark. “I think she knows about us. She’s not as dumb as she wants people to think. She’s probably filled Tony’s head with all kind of assumptions, and I guarantee she’s going to make it sound a lot worse than it is.“

His features were grim. “Then we’ll just have to deal with them. I refuse to feel guilty for loving you.”

Every time he said the L word, my body filled with warmth.

“Cyndi’s one thing, but Tony’s not quite picking up on my hints. Plus, tonight didn’t help any. He’s a loose cannon about to explode any second. I’m not sure what he’s gonna do.”

Nick’s eyes narrowed as if he were staring Tony down. “You leave Tony to me, he’s not going to hurt you, I promise.”

He sounded so cold I was almost scared of what he might do if Tony dared hurt me. Sensing my unease, his voice and expression lightened. “Hey, don’t worry. We’re together now and that’s all that matters.” He kissed me reassuringly. “You should probably go in and try to get some sleep. It’s late and tomorrow’s going to be a long day.”

We said goodnight and I went in, exhaustion taking over, my eyes drifting shut almost immediately after my head hit the pillow. Surprisingly, I slept a long, dreamless sleep.

***

I awoke with a grin to rival the Cheshire cat’s, remembering the raw emotion in Nick’s voice and how his eyes sparkled when he said he loved me. I showered and dressed for work feeling too wonderful for anything to dampen my mood. In a few hours, Nick and I would officially be a couple.

The ecstatic mood was still with me when I left the hospital that afternoon to get my nails done and then home to get ready for the big night. Even though we were going to get ready at Tracey’s, my mom insisted I get in my dress before I left so she could get pictures. She lived for moments like this and I got the feeling that my being a Homecoming nominee was even more important to her than if I had won a Nobel Prize.

I kissed her goodbye and took all the stuff I needed and headed to Tracey’s. Rachel and Emily were already there-we always got ready for big events together.

Tracey lived in a modest mission style home in the older part of town with her parents, grandmother and younger brother and sister. She was from Italian gypsy descent and her grandmother had come to America when she was just eight years old. Her family was very traditional. Tracey’s father worked long hours as a bank manager, while her mother gladly accepted the role of homemaker.

One thing I loved about Tracey’s was that when you walked in, you could always expect the scent of tomato and spices to be wafting in the air. Making a meal in the microwave was practically a crime in the Romelli home. Today, the baked ziti and fresh bread was too good to resist. Mrs. Romelli insisted that we didn’t go to the dance hungry. We thanked her for the delicious meal and headed upstairs to begin the process. We had two hours to go until the guys would be here to pick us up.

We took turns bathing in jasmine (for beauty inside and out as well as soft skin) and dabbed clove oil on our pulse points (for protection from verbal conflict and attraction). This dance was going to be different then any before it. When the four of us were together, I could feel the power we held surrounding us. We helped each other with our hair and make-up before putting on our dresses.

Tonight we were dressing for beauty so we were not wearing our power colors. Rachel’s style was ultra-conservative. She wasn’t as comfortable showing off her body as the rest of us were. On her boyish figure was a soft beige dress that skimmed her knees with lace trim around the neckline. Her copper hair was pulled up into a twist and held with a cream colored barrette. She looked very sweet and demure.

Where Rachel looked very innocent, Emily looked just the opposite. Emily’s red dress showed an ample amount of skin. There was a slit up her thigh and the spaghetti strap style complemented her tan. Her chin length hair had some curl to it and she sprayed it to give it the just out of bed look that was so hot right now.

Tracey was sexy in a black strapless dress that she managed to pull off despite looking like she might spill out of. I was amazed she could walk with the tall heels she wore. Her dark curls were piled beautifully on top of her head, except for a few pieces, which fell loose. She reminded me of a painting of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Love, with all her womanly curves.

I checked my appearance in the full-length mirror. The dress I picked accentuated my figure as well, the teal color bringing to life the blue-green of my eyes. As I slipped it on, I was aware that I was dressing for Nick’s eyes, not Tony’s. The dress had a low cut bodice that draped in all the right places in the front with halter style straps made of gossamer material that tied around my neck, leaving my shoulders and much of my back bare. There was the same gossamer overlay from the waist down with flecks of silver glitter throughout that sparkled when the light hit it just right.

I had found the perfect pair of silver sandals to match. They were short enough for me to walk in but tall enough to make my legs look long and toned. I was thankful for the natural tan I inherited from my mom. I hoped Nick would like my outfit; I had selected it thinking of his reaction. I felt like a model when I walked and the silky material caressed my thighs.

I kept my long multi-toned hair sleek and loose with big soft curls, sweeping my long bangs to the side and fastening them with a teal jeweled barrette. Emily said I looked very Cosmo. A knock at the door put a stop to the four of us admiring ourselves.

I was surprised to see Tracey’s grandmother on the other side.

“Look at you girls, so fancy. In my day, it was the men who worked hard to court the ladies, not the women trying to get the men. We showed just enough skin to spark the imagination. No one has imagination anymore.” She shook her head. “So beautiful, so tragic…”

She seemed to forget what she was talking about. Tracey put her hands around the older woman’s shoulders. “Grandma, don’t worry. We still behave like ladies, don’t we girls.”

The wrinkled eyes snapped open. “You did make sure to purify the tools, didn’t you?”

We all looked wide-eyed at Tracey who looked as confused as we did. Tracey’s parents don’t approve of witchcraft but her grandmother was the opposite. She believed in omens and superstitions and was the one who first taught Tracey how to read the Tarot. Even so, I knew Tracey wouldn’t have told her of our plans for after the dance.

Tracey tried to play it off. “What are you talking about?”

“To call something up is to invite danger. You must be sure to ask the elements for protection, to get the answers you seek.” The dark orbs on her face focused in on me at the sound of my indrawn breath. “You are the one in true danger. Not the others so much. Your power is strongest. It’s what he’s after.”

“Who?” I breathed.

She grabbed my hand tightly in her wrinkled one. “Tracey has the blood of our gypsy ancestors within her, but yours flows stronger, is much older than even ours.”

I swallowed hard, her words startling. “How did you know about tonight?”

“I know you girls are skilled in the old ways. It is the full moon, the Solstice. His power grows. By Samhain, he will reveal himself.”

“Who are you talking about?” I asked again. She seemed to be speaking without being aware of her words, as if she had been taken over. I still received no answer. With her gray frizzy hair and her shriveled appearance, she looked very much like a witch from a storybook. I almost expected her to cackle.

“This boy who is taking you to the dance, his features are dark, yes?”

Did she mean Nick? “No, he’s blonde. His name is Tony.”

Tracey’s grandma’s hands were shaking as they gripped mine. “No, you must follow your heart. This other boy brings danger. He must be stopped before the next full moon.”

What did she mean, ‘He must be stopped’? Tony was Tony, granted he was a jerk most of the time.

“He will harm those you love unless you find a way. His way will tempt you but you must fight. He must not be allowed-”

She broke off suddenly, just as I was leaning forward for her to finish. Had she been foreseeing my future? By a dark featured boy and following my heart, was she telling me that Nick and I were supposed to be together?

The other three girls were open mouthed and silent, shocked by what the she had been saying. Grandma Romelli blinked and released my hand.

“Grandma, who’s trying to hurt Faith?” Tracey asked.

The older woman looked bewildered. “I don’t know, dear. That wasn’t me. But I could sense danger. You girls must be sure to take every precaution tonight. The ceremony is necessary. You will surly get many more answers than I can give you.

“Grandma, I had no idea…”

“That I could see things?” She laughed heartily. “It comes and goes. Scares the heck out of your parents. Some folks are afraid of what they don’t understand.”

I broke in. “I barely understand. You said my power was strongest, older. But I thought that it just grows the more you practice it. Do you mean it’s in my family too, my blood? It’s just something we do mostly for fun.”

She studied me. “Is that what you think, that you and the others discovered witchcraft? It discovered you! It lays dormant in some people who have the power unless awakened. I should let you girls finish getting ready.”

“Wait!” I had to ask her one last thing. “Am I in danger by going to the dance with Tony?”

“Tony? Nick is the one you are meant to be with. Not this Tony.” With that, she puttered out of the room.

“Wow!” Emily exclaimed. “She is intense!”

“You’re telling me,” I mumbled, careful not to show them how much her words had affected me. “She still never answered me. And Tracey, what all did you tell her about me, Nick and Tony?”

Tracey’s eyes were still huge as she shook her head incredulously.

“That’s another thing, I’ve never mentioned either one of them to her-ever!”

 

 

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